Indiana Waits for Illinois to Make Up Its Mind on Illiana
CHICAGO — Indiana will continue to suspend all work and contracts tied to the $1.5 billion Illiana Corridor toll road until the fate of the controversial project becomes clear in cash-strapped Illinois.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner last week put the project on ice as one of a series of cuts he said would save $400 million. Rauner has never publicly announced a position on the Illiana but his Department of Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn led opposition against it.
Indiana has pushed hard for the project and had already started work on its own 10-mile portion of the expressway. But the state halted all work on the project last February amid the uncertainty in Illinois. A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation said the state "remains ready to proceed with the project when Illinois is ready."
Rauner last week removed the project from the transportation department's multi-year plan, but it remains on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning policy committee's Transportation Improvement Program, which entitles it to federal funding, according to Crain's Chicago Business.
The federal government in December gave both states the go-ahead to move from the planning phase to the implementation phase, including land acquisition efforts and other moves.
The 47-mile road would link Indiana Interstate 65 with Illinois Interstate 55. The project is estimated to carry a $1.5 billion price tag. It would be financed through a mix of state and federal transportation funds, bond proceeds, private activity borrowing, federal grants and developer contributions.